Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pick a whole number between five and six...

From: Russell 'Ace' Hoffman
To: Recipient list suppressed@null, null@null
Subject: Pick a whole number between five and six...
Date: Sep 5, 2007 7:11 PM

Dear Readers,

Well, well, well. Bombs over America. Bombs in our backyard. Bombs away! While MS-NBC was reporting five nuclear warheads were accidentally flown across the country last week, CNN was reporting it was six. Nobody seems to know for sure.

We're being told these weapons cannot detonate due to "safeguards."

Are those the same safeguards that lost them in the first place?

We're being told that even if there was an accident, the plutonium in the bombs wouldn't go far.


The HE (high explosives) could scatter the plutonium far and wide. How far? How wide?

One bomb that fell off a jet years ago over Mars Bluff, South Carolina created a hole 50 feet across and 35 feet deep when the conventional explosives detonated. Obviously, there was no nuclear explosion, but there was significant contamination.

Each nuclear bomb in last week's incident -- W-80 model cruise missiles of up to 150 kilotons each -- contains about 10 pounds of highly radioactive material (Plutonium-239, possibly "supergrade" (very low in Plutonium-240)). Additionally, there is highly poisonous Hydrogen-3 ("tritium") which is injected into the center of the bomb moments before the explosion, and beryllium is used both to initiate the explosion (as a "neutron generator") and to reflect the neutrons released in the initial nanoseconds of the explosion back into the "pit." There is also Lithium-6, and Depleted Uranium (Uranium-238) encases the "pit." The Uranium-238 acts as a shield to protect the military personnel who handle the bomb. Then, at the moment of explosion, it too will fission.

So even without a nuclear explosion, there could be an enormous environmental problem.

And it's not like this has never happened before. Below is only a PARTIAL LIST of "Broken Arrows," "Bent Spears," "Dull Swords," and "Faded Giants" (endearing military terms for various levels of nuclear weapons accidents, all short of a "Nucflash." You can guess what that is -- it's the one they say can't happen (but then, why do they have a name for it?).

March 10, 1956: A B-47 bomber with two nuclear weapons was lost over the Mediterranean Sea. Despite an extensive search, nothing was ever recovered.

July 28th, 1957: Off Cape May, New Jersey: Three nuclear weapons without their fissile cores, and a "nuclear capsule" (the part that detonates) were lost at sea and never recovered. Other reports say only two of the nuclear weapons were jettisoned, and the other was brought back, along with the nuclear capsule. The damaged C-124 landed at an air base near Atlantic City.

February 5th, 1958, off Tybee Island, Georgia, a 7,000 pound, 4-megaton hydrogen bomb was jettisoned after a mid-air collision between a B-47 bomber and an F-86 fighter jet, and never recovered. It's still lost in the mud amongst old civil war ordinance. The Air Force insisted the bomb was not "nuclear-capable" (was missing the nuclear capsule) but this is probably untrue. At least two former Air Force personnel involved in the incident testified otherwise under oath.

November 4th, 1958, a B-47 crashed carrying a nuclear weapon.

In 1959 a B-52 crashed in Kentucky with two nuclear weapons on board. There were no explosions.

January 24th, 1961: Near Goldsboro, North Carolina a B-52 broke apart in mid-air. This incident was probably closest to being a "Nucflash" because apparently FIVE OF SIX SAFETY SYSTEMS FAILED!

On December 8th, 1964, a B-58 bomber skidded off the runway, and "portions" of five nuclear weapons burned.

In 1965 an aircraft rolled off an aircraft carrier with a "live hydrogen bomb" and sank. Fortunately, it didn't go off. This was near Okinawa. Years later it was still leaking radioactive material.

On January 17th, 1966 a B-52 collided with a KC-135 refueling tanker and crashed in Spain. Seven crew members of the KC-135 were burned to death. The clean-up cost millions of dollars. More than a thousand tons of dirt were brought back to America and dumped at the Savannah River Site, but nevertheless, the cleanup was only partially successful and people in Spain are still being sickened by the radioactive materials that remain.

January 22nd, 1968: Near Thule, Greenland, four hydrogen bombs were "scattered" over the ice (supposedly the contaminated ice was later shipped to America). This incident sparked massive protests since Greenland had banned such flights over their soil.

These accidents -- and many more -- and this latest incident prove that there is no safe place for nuclear weapons. No country, no ocean, no lake can withstand the devastation.

The last B-52 was manufactured in 1962, so the youngest the plane that was used in this latest incident could possibly be is 45 years old -- quite possibly older than the pilot and co-pilot together. Is this safe?

It's time to stop this foolishness before something really terrible happens! We're not getting ANY BETTER at handling nukes, and firing or demoting those involved, while proper, WON'T address the root cause one little bit, because the root cause is that humans make mistakes. ALL humans make mistakes, and they will continue to do so.

"Nuclear weapons are designed with great care to explode only when deliberately armed and fired. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility that, as a result of accidental circumstances, an explosion will take place inadvertently. Although all conceivable precautions are taken to prevent them, such accidents might occur in areas where weapons are assembled and stored, during the course of loading and transportation on the ground, or when actually in the delivery vehicle, e.g., an airplane or a missile."

-Atomic Energy Commission/Department of Defense, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1962. (quote presented by Jaya Tiwari and Cleve J. Gray).

Had these bombs exploded, who do you think would have been blamed? Al Qaeda? Iran? North Korea? China?


Ace Hoffman Carlsbad, CA

Thanks to Pamela Blockey-O'Brien for her assistance in preparing this report. Numerous web sites and books were also reviewed, incuding:

U.S. Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History (ISBN 0-517-56740-7) by Chuck Hansen, Orion Books, New York)

** Russell "Ace" Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer
** P.O. Box 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018-1936
** (800) 551-2726 (U.S. & Canada)
** (760) 720-7261 (elsewhere)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plutonium is not "highly radioactive" as your article states. It actually has a half-life measured in thousands of years, a fact that causes its own environmental problems.

Something that is "highly radioactive" tends to decay off quickly and become less of a problem, while a substance that is only mildly radioactive can be an environmental problem for thousands of years.

5:33 AM  

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